When the Philadelphia 76ers traded up to select Markelle Fultz with the first overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, the consensus was that he’d instantly become a Rookie of the Year candidate.
However, the 6’4” 19-year-old has had some clear struggles at the NBA level, averaging just 6.0 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 19.0 minutes over four games.
He has also struggled mightily shooting the ball, going 9-of-27 from the field (33.3 percent) and 6-of-12 from the free throw line. After shooting over 40 percent from three-point range during his one-and-done season at the University of Washington, Fultz hasn’t taken a single three yet this season.
His altered and unorthodox shooting form has also gained national attention, leading to the revelation that he has been dealing with an ailing right shoulder.
Raymond Brothers, Fultz’s agent, recently told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that the point guard received treatment on the shoulder during the preseason.
"He had a cortisone shot on Oct. 5, which means fluid was put into his shoulder -- not taken out," Brothers told ESPN on Tuesday. "My intention earlier was to let people know that he's been experiencing discomfort. We will continue to work with (Sixers general manager) Bryan Colangelo and the medical staff.”
Earlier in the day on Tuesday, Brothers told ESPN that “Markelle had a shoulder injury and fluid drained out of the back of his shoulder. He literally cannot raise up his arms to shoot the basketball. He decided to try and fight through the pain to help the team. He has a great attitude. We are committed to finding a solution to get Markelle back to 100 percent.”
As you can tell by his free throw stroke, the issue was most likely bothering him.
Therefore, some serious red flags arose. Why on Earth was he on the court? Is the issue more serious than expected? What is the team doing?
On Sunday, the Sixers announced that Fultz will be out indefinitely due to soreness and “scapular muscle imbalance” in his right shoulder.
Doctors confirmed that there are no structural issues to the shoulder, which is a plus, but he will be re-evaluated in three weeks to determine whether or not he can return to the court. In the meantime, he will undergo physical therapy.
While Sixers fans are most likely getting tired of “trusting the process”, it appears they’ll have to do so once again as their point guard of the future nurses himself to health.